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Entrepreneurship in Academia - What it Takes to Enter the Business World

By Yejin Sohn

“Starting a business is a humbling experience.” 

This is the sentiment that Jaehong Park shared with me. Park is a successful entrepreneur who recently launched a product focused around his research in materials nanoscience: An anti-bacterial tape! There are endless uses for this product, from cosmetic packaging to door handles. This tape does not let any bacteria grow on its surface and has great potential in public health, especially at times like these.

I was fascinated to hear Park’s story and perspectives on entrepreneurship. After spending his entire career in academia and research, Park recently decided to branch out and create a product utilizing his expertise. He never actually studied business.

“My knowledge in marketing was limited and I didn’t have a great network either,” he says.

His company Nanoin is a small startup based in South Korea that specializes in nanotechnology and sells their product and expertise to a variety of other companies. While Park is still working to establish his presence in the market and building his network, he explains that he is growing more, both personally and career-wise, than ever before.

Thoughts on Innovation

I was really interested to hear Park’s advice for people who have academic interests as well as an entrepreneurial spirit:

1. Gain knowledge. Perhaps the most obvious step in being able to create a product or service is to have an extensive background in that specific subject area. Especially for those who are looking to launch a business in a niche market, you need to be one of the best in that field to succeed.

2. Have a mission. “It not only adds value and reason to a company, but it also keeps the project focused and on task.”

3. Reflect. As a new company, Park says he has to make sure to look back once in a while to learn from past experiences, even if moving forward is the top priority.

4. Be humble in all aspects. It allows you to grow and be flexible. 

5. See people as people. “It is really easy to get exhausted by meeting people with a pre-set motive. I have learned to keep an open mind about making relationships.” 


It is inspiring to learn how an individual like Park launched a company despite his lack of experience in business. He was willing to learn and adapt from his life in academia to expand his presence in the specialized public health market. Park took the risk to start something new, even when he had stability in his career as a researcher. “When I saw the good test results, or noticed a new trend, my interest in entrepreneurship grew,” he says.

I imagined entrepreneurs as people who didn’t necessarily excel in school. It seems these are the individuals who receive significant media exposure. The debate over whether “school kills creativity” is still very much relevant, but after talking with Park, I decided that creativity can be found anywhere: in labs and garages alike. However, Park caveats that “the fact that you have the skills doesn’t translate to success. The right knowledge about the market and a detailed plan of action is what determines a business.” 

For people like me who are interested in both academia and the business world, Park’s story is a prime example of how entrepreneurship isn’t limited to those who are marketing experts with huge networks. I particularly admire Park’s open mind to learning about business and how he values his relationships.

Entrepreneurship is all about change and success comes down to your ability to adapt. I hope to be able to contribute to this philosophy, and who knows, perhaps I can have similar success.

Learn more about Park and his company Nanoin.

Yejin Sohn is a rising senior at Perry High School in Gilbert Arizona and a chapter officer of DECA, a business organization that prepares students to become emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in the professional world. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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